Friday, October 16, 2015

Fresia - Imitate Her Faith

Fresia is an amazing pioneer sister who was born in Santiago, Chile, but moved to Switzerland after marrying a Swiss brother named Peter. She lived there with her husband for some 12 years and has amazing stories, experiences, and pictures from hiking all over Switzerland in the famous Swiss Alps and other parts of Europe. She has a contagious laugh and remarkably positive and encouraging attitude. Her love for Jehovah is so evident and says, “Jehovah has always been so real to me, like a friend who has always been and never left my side.” She shares that even when she was a little girl she always knew that Jehovah existed and was there for her as a Father.

However, her life took a change of course when her husband left the truth and became more and more devoted and successful in his career. Little did she know though that his mental health was severely deteriorating to the point that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia. Things progressed far too quickly before being able to find adequate therapy for him and in 2012 he committed suicide.

I can hardly imagine the pain and struggle one goes through when losing a mate but in Fresia’s case it is much more complicated too considering her father experienced similar problems which instilled a deep fear in her.  Unfortunately, the irony falls on the fact that her very own husband died from that exact fear from her past. A few years after his death, she decided that change was necessary as we can all imagine. Thus, I have had the privilege to meet and get to know Fresia when she decided to move and serve where the need is greater here in Bolivia!

Fresia has been serving in my congregation since November 2014 but supporting a small group in the town of Sipe Sipe. Her success in the ministry is greatly due to her contagious positive and loving attitude. Despite it all, she is so encouraging, up building, joyous, and with her focus clearly on the hope for the future. The text at Neh 8:10 makes me smile when I think of my dear friend Fresia because she truly does “enjoy the choice things” in life and the “joy of Jehovah” is her clearly her stronghold.

Despite everything that she has experienced and gone through within the past couple of years, her faith has never wavered. If anything, it has only gotten stronger and drawn her all the more closer to Jehovah. Her example is so inspiring because despite the awful circumstances in this world she truly finds “the joy of Jehovah” and finds consolation through our amazing brotherhood. She says, “confiding in Jehovah and concentrating in serving him full time is what helps me”.

Unfortunately, this month, October, she has moved back to Santiago to take care of her mother who was diagnosed last year with Alzheimer’s disease. Though I, and the rest of us here in Vinto, will miss her more than she realizes I know her example will inspire others to imitate her faith. 
Sharing Caleb and Sofia videos

All the kiddos on her Bible study

Volunteering at a hall remodel

Heading to cart witnessing in Sipe Sipe

Tombstone of her dear husband, Peter.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ruth - Imitate Her Faith

     Ruth is a young sister, 23, and in her second year of pioneering. She has grown up outside Vinto, Cochabamba, Bolivia in a small rural community, Vila Vila, known for their crops and produce. Her family, and she herself, has beautiful land where they grow onion, carrots, squash, tomatoes, and potatoes – all within its season. They take their produce to La Paz, a seven hour bus ride, and sell in bulk. However, this gives her a flexible schedule for pioneering because while her crops are growing she can be in service almost every day during the week, but when it is the harvest she is hard at work in her fields, and those of her family members, until they can sell in La Paz. From there, she starts fresh with planting her next round of crops and does this throughout the year.
     On top of maintaining her land, she goes to school part-time to learn how to sew. She chose this route, instead of deciding to study at a university, to be able to pursue a career as a pioneer.  It was not an easy decision because she desired to pursue other things but realized the importance of her relationship with Jehovah and made that sacrifice for Him. Now she has an extra income making dresses, skirts, and doing repairs on clothing for sisters in the congregation. She does not regret her decision in any way and encourages young sisters and studies in the congregation to pursue a simpler education as well to be able to give their best to Jehovah.
     Both of her parents are Witnesses but none of her siblings or relatives are.  Which, that alone, has its daily challenges when she is doing the absolute most she can for Jehovah and His kingdom and they don’t necessarily understand her stand for the Truth nor how important her service schedule is. Nonetheless, she is solid in faith and an amazing support in the congregation and preaching work.
     One of the many reasons that she is an amazing support in the ministry is because she is fluent in Quechua. We live in one of the most densely populated areas of people that speak this native language and on a regular basis we find people in the ministry that don’t speak or understand anything else. She willingly and thoroughly gives them a great witness when so many of the rest of us cannot.
     With all of this said, she makes me think of the song Make the Truth Your Own because she truly has made the truth her own. She has had so many different opportunities to pursue other courses in her life but has chosen to live with a simple eye and rely on Jehovah. She is so happy to be serving Jehovah full time and it shows through her enthusiasm and encouragement. Her willful spirit is contagious and is truly an example for all of us to follow.
Ruth and I in service

Ruth in her fields

Ruth's mom

Imitate Their Faith

There are so many practical ways that we can apply the Bible in our daily lives and, obviously, everything was written aforetime for our benefit and instruction. Thus, when reading and thinking about all of the trials that early Christians had to face, sometimes we stop and ask ourselves if we would have been strong enough or have had enough faith and courage in the same situations. Well, we do. Realistically, our own brothers and sisters today face equally enduring trials and leave such amazing examples for us as well. Thus, with that said, I want to share the stories of some amazing brothers and sisters that I’ve gotten to meet so we too can imitate their faith. 


     There is an abundance of paintings of Jesus in his ministry from the organization but one of the more endearing ones is the cover of the Learn from the Great Teacher book because it is so realistic. Jesus had the personality that attracted young kids to learn from him but the kids too are there eagerly listening to him.
     Recently I keep observing situations exactly like that with the kids in the illustration. They aren’t ashamed and are eager to see what you share.  They ask amazing, real questions. They get so, so excited with pictures and videos and always want to see more. They remind us to pray before a study and are disappointed when you have to reschedule. They want homework to learn new songs. Their desire is so amazing… These kiddos are spiritually thirsty – often more so than adults.

     Their examples remind me not to negate their rights. To offer the promises of the kingdom to them too. And to follow their example. To not be ashamed and to continually be learning. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The new world will never come!

A few months back we had our CO visit. We were talking about different field service experiences that we've had and other developments in the organization throughout the world. He then jokingly said "Man, with experiences like these the new world will never come! There is just too much work still!!

Here's a fun experience I had recently:
One day we were preaching in a newly developed territory. There seemed to be what amounted to an indefinite number of newly constructed homes. Now, new territory is always exciting right? It's in a different area than you're used to, different people, families... A nice change of pace. However, while these things stand true, new territory in Bolivia isn't always a walk in the park as the saying goes. Although the homes are there, getting to these homes can be an adventure in itself.

This particular morning I was working with a newly unbaptized publisher. After walking miles throughout this territory we get to the final part. Finally. The brother directs Jeni and I along this very narrow alleyway that leads to about 10 other homes. Reaching the end of the alleyway, we realize that we are on a large hill looking upon the roofs of these 10 homes. "How will we get down?" Walking a bit further we see a rather steep, dirt walkway. It had rained buckets the night before so the dirt is now slick mud. There is no other option. Great. Hearts racing, we start to head down. Step, slide, giggle was the process of our trek down. We made it alive....only to find ourselves face to face with two barking dogs. After miraculously getting passed them, we make it to Lydia's home.

Lydia is a sweet 19year old girl with 4 other sisters. They were preparing lunch the day we visited them outside. They invited us to come sit with them as they cooked and we shared our presentation. After listening intently and responding favorably, magazines were placed. Lydia began looking through the magazine and caught a glimpse of the bible teach book photo on the back cover. Her eyes lit up and asked me if I had that book. I told her that I didn't have one with me but I could bring her one. She asked for 3 books for herself and her other sisters. I told her I would bring them that weekend. She then said, "you promise you'll come?" "I promise." I replied. "For sure, for sure, for sure?" I chuckled and assured her that I would come....subconsciously thinking of the journey I'd have to take to get there!

As promised I returned with the books. She was very thankful and gave a generous donation. We started a study with her and her sisters that day and have continued it ever since!

I also wanted to give an update on the young mom, Rosa that I had mentioned in a previous post. She still regularly holds her study and expresses her love for it every time! She has become one of my favorite studies. She has an incredible hunger for bible truth and a burning desire to do what Jehovah asks of her. She has even started having a weekly family worship night with her 2yr old daughter, Kenya with the bible stories book.

The other week we were studying about Jesus and went over the part about the cross. She was nearly disgusted with the fact that no one has told her that Jesus did not in fact die on a cross and on top of it all the cross is not even a biblical teaching but rather of pagan origen.

She says, "The majority of the people don't even realize this! Why?"

I reminded her that the "god of this system has blinded the minds of the unbelievers."

She sighs, looks down while shaking her head. She then looks at me, with pleading eyes and says, "What can we do to expose this lie, and tell everyone the truth?"

That simple question filled me with so much joy. With that kind of burning desire we will be welcoming a new publisher to Jehovah's organization very soon!!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

RTO - El Alto

     Among the many things within Jehovah’s organization that are impressive, one thing that has always stood out to me is how productive it is all around the world – all at the same time. For example, when I was in pioneer school, it was so encouraging and so much fun to be taking part in a school, receiving such a profound education. It required a lot of planning and organization among the brothers, among the circuit, among the district, etc. for it to run smoothly. However, during the same time period, our Assembly Hall in Aurora was being built. And, on the same note, that required even more planning on a national level. I remember thinking how amazing it was that this was all taking place at the same time around the world.
     Well now being on the other side of the world, literally, I’ve gotten to experience another outstanding aspect of Jehovah’s organization – helping at the construction site in El Alto for the Aymara Remote Translation Office. Here in Bolivia there are two main native dialects: Quechua and Aymara.  And the people who natively speak those languages have a very hard time speaking Spanish – if at all.  
     Being on the project was so amazing because it will be a very, very small branch. However, that doesn’t matter. All of the brothers and sisters, whether they are helping full-time or as volunteers, see the importance of this specific translation branch for the territory in Bolivia. And so does Jehovah. Though the branch is being built and its purpose is for a very small amount of people, it is still so important.
     Thus, the amazing part to me, among many things, is that this is happening around the world! I’m obviously biased to the work being done here in Bolivia, but there are so many projects unanimously being done by Jehovah’s loving direction. 



Monday, January 5, 2015

Sipe Sipe

As we have mentioned before, the territory here in Vinto is enormous - with several towns and pueblos. However, one of particular interest is a town called Sipe Sipe. Since we have arrived, in June 2014, there has been a lot of focus towards this town with the thought of soon starting a group. Well, during our past circuit overseer visit he mentioned that any time the branch asked him where there was need in the circuit, he sent every request to Vinto. Thus, we've had a couple from Finland move into our hall, a sister from Germany, a sister from Switzerland, and several sisters and couples from around Bolivia. Now there is extra support in Vinto and enough support for a group in Sipe Sipe. 

With these specific brothers and sisters focusing all their attention to Sipe Sipe, we are proud to announce that they held their first meeting ever on Sunday, January 5 at 5:00pm. With around 30 people in attendance, there were seven studies who came. The visiting brother, who gave the public talk, had given such loving forethought to what this particular audience would need to hear. He presented it beautifully with several illustrations and experiences from nearby towns. At one point he held up his Bible and said, "this book changes lives", while making direct eye contact with the studies who came. 

To say the least, it was such an amazing privilege to be there - to be part of something so special. The Watchtower that day had spoken of the growth we see in the organization around the world and how that's proof of Jesus backing and directing. Well that could not have been a more moving Watchtower for us on that day as we were sitting there together participating in the first meeting because though we were few all I could think about is how special these people will be as a congregation together and how fast it will grow from here.    

- Karly